Last fall’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Part II was a milestone for Raekwon. The long-promised sequel to the Wu-Tang Clan member’s 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx drew stronger reviews than he’d seen in many years and hit the Billboard 200’s top five the week of its release. Considering the six-year pause that preceded Cuban Linx II, you might expect Rae to be resting on his laurels right about now.
Hardly. He returns March 30 with Wu-Massacre (pictured), a full-length collaboration with his Wu brothers Method Man and Ghostface Killah; after that, it’s back to work on Rae’s next solo album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. To take a breather from recording might risk losing momentum, which he’s simply unwilling to do. “Right now, I’m tired as hell,” Raekwon admits, sitting at a conference table at EMI Records’ NYC office with a red-and-blue New York Giants hoodie pulled low over his forehead. “But it’s a job.”
On top of all that, Raekwon is also trying to establish himself as an music-biz mogul. Cuban Linx II was the first product of his Ice H2O label, released in partnership with EMI. Next up is Capone-N-Noreaga’s The War Report II, another sequel to a beloved ’90s New York rap album. Rae is interested in diversifying to other genres, too: “If I could come with another Avril Lavigne or Lady Gaga…” he thinks out loud. “We’re just ready to keep it moving. No more five years away Rae s—. I’m trying to make Ice H2O the next Def Jam. In my eyes, I’m the Berry Gordy.”
Read on for Raekwon’s thoughts on Cuban Linx Part II, Wu-Massacre, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, and the possibility of another album from all eight members of the Wu-Tang Clan left after Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 2004 passing — plus Rae’s reaction after seeing for the first time the crazy/awesome “RZA crosses the Potomac” painting that lit up the Internet last month.